Three Questions to Ask Your New Hire After Three Months

The first few months of a new hire’s employment are crucial in determining whether or not they are going to succeed. In fact, up to 20 percent of all new hires resign within the first 45 days. This is an enormous loss for the business given the time and money spent to recruit that person in the first place.

Making sure new employees have all the necessary tools and training they need to be effective in their roles is imperative. If you don’t already have a formal 30-60-90 day onboarding plan in place, it’s time to fix that. Not only are properly onboarded employees 50 percent more productive, but they’re also 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years. Because the first few months on the job are usually very hectic for new hires, the 90-day mark is a great time for managers to check in to see how they’re acclimating. You might be surprised how much you can learn about new employees, your managerial style, and your company just by asking a few simple questions. Below are three questions that are guaranteed to provide a lot of valuable feedback on how happy, comfortable, and engaged your new hire is:

“Tell me about your best day and your worst day.”

This is a great icebreaker question that can reveal a lot about the type of work a new hire enjoys doing, how much passion he/she has for the job, and how he/she might deal with change or adversity. It also gives you greater insight into what a typical day is like for this person, as well as the impact of his/her responsibilities on customers and driving opportunities for the practice. New hires may have trouble articulating specific likes and dislikes since, as previously noted, the first three months can be a bit of a blur.

Challenge them to provide at least one example of something that has and hasn’t gone well. There could be instances where they remember feeling elated about a specific task and/or deflated about a decision they made. Chances are your new hire has already faced at least a few challenges. It could be anything from not knowing where to find a particular item to not seeing eye-to-eye with a strong personality in the office. However big or small, this is your chance to uncover and address any concerns or issues that could negatively affect your new hire’s performance and contentment. The sooner, the better.

“What would you do differently?”

Three months is just enough time for a new employee to get a firm grasp on how the business operates and what’s expected of them but not long enough for them to get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s the perfect time to solicit their honest opinions and suggestions. They may point out inefficiencies you weren’t aware of. They may have an eye-opening recommendation that could improve your current processes while also cutting costs. Keep an open mind and remember that you hired this person for a reason. Really listen to what they have to say, take notes, and make sure they feel heard. Empowering your new employees to speak up and openly contribute ideas helps you build trust with them. You’re also planting the seeds of their professional development by encouraging them to think like a leader and continuously seek out possible areas for improvement.

“How can I help you succeed?”

This is an excellent question to ask new hires for several different reasons. First, it’s a less daunting way to essentially ask “How can I be a better manager for you?” It’s important to let your staff know that you are open to discussing your own performance to ensure you’re creating the best possible work environment for them. Second, you’ll likely find out if the employee has everything he/she needs to be productive and if there’s anything he/she is still unclear on. Perhaps this person would benefit from having access to a particular program or there’s an inexpensive tool that would help him/her get work done faster. It could be an easy fix but the only way to know is to ask. Lastly, asking this question will give you an idea of where some additional training might be needed for your new employees to strengthen their skills and become the best versions of themselves.

The ultimate goal of the 90-day review/check-in with your new employees is to set them up for long-term success. So, soliciting their feedback isn’t enough—you need to follow up! Acknowledging then acting on some of the discussion points will show the employee that you truly care about his/her feelings, well-being, input, and professional development. As a leader, you need to build a foundation of trust and respect before your business and employees can grow together.

For help with hiring and onboarding new employees, turn to our experienced team of human resources and recruiting professionals. Learn more about our industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions!

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About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined ConsultYHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

How to Avoid and Solve Conflicts in the Workplace

Workplace conflicts are inevitable. A group of people with diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds, experiences, opinions, and beliefs, aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye. And that’s a good thing!

As the practice leader, it’s your responsibility to maintain a cohesive work environment. Left unresolved, even minor disagreements between employees can hurt staff productivity, engagement, and morale. Developing effective conflict resolution skills is essential to building a desirable workplace culture and thus, a successful business.

Since its easier to prevent fires than it is to extinguish them, here are several tips and techniques managers can use to avoid conflicts in the workplace:

1. Define acceptable behavior and lead by example.

Every member of your staff should know what types of behaviors will and won’t be tolerated, ideally from their first day on the job. And be ready to take action if an employee crosses the line. Remember: it only takes one bad egg to ruin the bunch. Clearly defined job descriptions and chain of command as well as encouraging collaboration and professional development will help to prevent conflicts. Additionally, you should set the right example. You can do this by:

  • Being honest, reliable, and direct in your communication with staff and patients.
  • Not participating in office politics or drama.
  • Checking in with employees regularly to show that you care about them as people.
  • Never publicly criticize or reprimand employees.
  • Displaying a professional demeanor while also showing interest in your team’s overall well-being
  • Showing that you value other people’s input and respect unique points of view.

2. Be proactive and tackle conflicts head-on.

Conflicts rarely resolve themselves. By actively seeking out possible tension in the office and proactively intervening, you’ll not only minimize the severity of conflicts but even prevent some from ever arising. Encourage employees to work out disagreements with coworkers while they’re still small and make sure they know they can come to you with any challenges that are negatively affecting their work.

3. Champion positivity and respect.

It’s amazing the impact one person’s cheerful disposition can have. Your positivity will rub off on your staff, keeping aggressions and squabbles at bay. To build and maintain positive relationships with your employees, ask for their cooperation instead of barking commands, thank them when they take initiative or go above and beyond, and acknowledge their good work. When they make mistakes, miss deadlines, or get into arguments, meet with them in private, explain what they did wrong and what they can/should do differently in the future. If you find yourself lecturing a staff member more than you’re praising him/her, then it’s time to make some personnel changes.

4. Get to know your team.

Taking the time to get to know your employees—their likes and dislikes, their strengthens and weakness—will help you identify personality clashes that can spark conflict. Also, be on the lookout for cliques (one of the most common contributors to a toxic work environment). Keep your ear to the ground. While you shouldn’t contribute to the office chatter, you should have a general idea of what employees are whispering about.

5. Communicate often and carefully.

Most often, conflicts stem from a lack of information, poor information, misinformation, or no information. Communicating information to your staff clearly, accurately, and in a timely manner is guaranteed to reduce the number and severity of conflicts in the practice. Be particularly mindful of your words and tone when communicating with employees via text or email—what may seem like a perfectly innocent emoji or turn of phrase to you may be interpreted very differently by the person/people on the other end. It’s much easier to offend people when they can’t see your body language and you can’t see their reactions.

6. Embrace conflicts as learning opportunities.

Hidden within every conflict is the potential for growth and development. Differing opinions can often lead to innovation and even bring teams closer together. Having to resolve a workplace dispute with poise and diplomacy is good training for an employee looking to move into a managerial role one day.

Now that you know what you can do to try to prevent conflicts, let’s discuss how to effectively resolve the ones that do inevitably pop up.

1. Take immediate action to identify the cause of the conflict.

The root of a problem is the key to solving it. But to get to the root, you need the individuals involved to sit down and engage in a constructive conversation with the goal of finding common ground. Find a safe and private place to meet (i.e., somewhere they won’t be overheard by patients and/or noisy colleagues) then give each party equal time to air out their thoughts, feelings, and concerns regarding the issue at hand. Take a positive but assertive approach to guide the discussion and set ground rules if necessary. Encourage employees to avoid making personal attacks and playing the “blame game.”

2. Listen actively and make sure both sides feel heard.

Let each party speak without interruption. Afterward, summarize and repeat back to them what you heard in your own words. Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage the parties to articulate their thoughts in an open and honest manner, then try to read between the lines. Validating their feelings can also help deescalate tensions. It’s best to go into these discussions with an open mind. Don’t pick a side or make a final verdict until you’re confident you understand the full story. Also, be sure to take notes and save them in case you need to refer back to them at some point.

3. Agree on the best solution and the role each party plays in its execution.

You need to have a common objective, which is resolving the issue and ensuring it doesn’t resurface. After clarifying the source of conflict and talking to both parties, it’s time to brainstorm possible solutions. Once one has been decided on, outline the responsibilities each party has in resolving the conflict. The involved parties may never be friends, but as long as they can treat each other with respect, they can maintain a viable working relationship.

4. Monitor the situation and consider preventative strategies for the future.

Continue to keep an eye on the issue to assess if the solution is working and both parties are following through on what they agreed to. Decide what your steps will be if the issue resurfaces as well as what processes you could institute to avoid this type of conflict in the future. Reflecting on how you handled the situation and what you learned from it, will help you hone your conflict management skills.

Consult helps practice owners mitigate risk, navigate complex issues, and manage their teams more effectively through comprehensive HR support.

About the Author

Dawn Bauer is a Senior Recruiter who has been with Consult YHN since 2003. Previously, she spent 15 years working in banking and accounting, including 2 years in Consult YHN’s billing department. When she’s not at work, you can find Dawn either on the beach, in a shoe store, or at a concert.

How to Build Your Company Brand by Hiring for Culture and Engagement

It’s estimated that there will be 20,000 job openings for audiologists in the U.S. by 2028. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed professionals in the field, audiology programs in the U.S., or students in those programs to keep up with accelerating demand. In fact, there may be more audiologists retiring from the profession over the next decade than entering it.

When you take this dearth of providers and factor in the cost of hiring new employees (an average of $4,000+ per hire), the cost of employee churn (fees paid, human capital involved with the onboarding process, downtime to train), and the damage done to your staff morale and patients’ perception of your practice, the price of failure becomes quite clear.

Ultimately, for your business to be successful, you need to be competitive in identifying, attracting, and hiring top talent. If you don’t hire the best people, your competitors will—it’s a zero-sum game. The upside is that when you get it right and hire the best, you’ll be in a great position to develop the culture you need to take your practice to the next level and become an “Employer of Choice” in the hearing healthcare field.

Hiring for Attitude & Culture

Your “brand” is who you are. It’s reflected to the outside world through the prism of your practice culture. It’s how your community, patients, employees, and competitors perceive you. For better or worse, it’s best reflected by the team you’ve assembled. The good news is that this is all within your control. Should you desire a different culture, a better brand, you can create it. And you do that by hiring the right people.

To define “the right people” in the context of hiring, we should start by reviewing the difference between skills and traits: skills are relatively easy to teach or develop while traits are very difficult to teach or develop. Now consider how you vet and weigh skills and traits when making hiring decisions. Why are skills so important to you and could traits be even more important? Remember: the traits of your employees will rarely change, the collection of traits across your entire staff is your culture, and your culture is what defines your brand.

Researcher Mark Murphy’s three-year “Hiring for Attitude” study of 20,000 new hires at over 300 organizations showed that most “misses” (bad hires) are not due to issues of technical competence (lacking skills), but rather issues around attitude, attributes, and emotional intelligence (traits). Of the 9,200 new hires that failed, the vast majority—81 percent—failed because they didn’t have the right traits for the job, resulting in poor cultural alignment to the organization.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since skills are relatively easy to vet. Did you ever hire an audiologist who didn’t work out? Did they have the skills for the job? Or was it something else that led to their failure—attitude, work ethic, emotional intelligence (EQ)? You need to identify which traits are most important to your organization’s culture and then vet for them during the interview process.

This is my own personal list (feel free to make it yours!):

  • Work ethic
  • Coachability
  • Empathy (EQ)
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness (EQ)
  • Positivity
  • Passion
  • Energy

It’s not always easy to resist the urge to overvalue skills due to cognitive biases at play. Those same biases can also cause us to minimize the importance of traits when we make hiring decisions. Have you ever described your ideal candidate to a recruiter as someone who can “hit the ground running” because they “have all the required skills” or, one of my favorites, “requires little supervision because I don’t have time to manage them?

I’ve heard these kinds of statements a lot in my 20+ years as a professional recruiter. And when I do, I know that it says far more about the hiring manager and the organization’s culture than about the candidate they’re seeking. If you have a sound grasp of what’s teachable and are willing to teach it, you’ll stand a much greater chance of hiring the right people and building your best culture. While it may seem like an arduous task to build skills in an employee, remember that it’s almost impossible to build or change traits, attributes, or attitudes.

Building & Maintaining Your Culture

As an owner or practice manager, don’t forget that you play a very important role in building and maintaining your desired workplace culture—you’re required to lead! Be mindful of how you carry yourself and how you interact with your staff and patients. All of your actions and behaviors matter. These are the behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:

  • Exude unerring positivity
  • Communicate with utmost clarity
  • Possess a clear vision and work tirelessly to gain alignment to that vision
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • Build trusting relationships with words and actions
  • Express gratitude

You should intentionally engage in these actions, behaviors, and attitudes every day. Great leadership is not accidental!

Becoming and ‘Employer of Choice’

You’ve hired all the right people, they’re all highly engaged, and finally, you have the culture you’ve always wanted and known you deserved. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build and solidify yourself as an “Employer of Choice.”

The best way to do this is to first, identify your “brand champions” (i.e., the best of the best, the most engaged of all the engaged). They’re easy to find. Simply look for employees who:

  1. genuinely enjoy their job/don’t just do it for the money,
  2. look for opportunities to mentor, and
  3. demonstrate the behaviors of leaders (see above)

Second, give them additional responsibilities! Any good leader loves a good challenge. When you give these employees opportunities to mentor, encourage them to evangelize your practice through social media, community groups, and professional associations, and hold them accountable, they will value themselves even more, and then they will thrive.

Conclusion

Creating a great culture, one that emphasizes growth and development, will demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow, when you can site real-life examples of employee development, and when you can identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you will then be in a great position to attract additional, like-minded employees.

Practices that utilize Consult’s industry-leading human resources consulting and staffing solutions see incremental increases in revenue and the highest levels of measurable engagement. That’s because our experienced recruiters vet candidates for the highest skill level as well as aligned cultural fit.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Are You Engaged…To Your Business?

Did you know that seven of the ten most popular days to get engaged all fall in December? Perhaps not surprising given the pandemic’s impact on practically everything in our lives, the traditional engagement season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) looked a little different last year. In fact, Valentine’s Day dethroned Christmas as the most popular day to pop the question in 2020 (most likely because it took place pre-COVID).

So, what does this mean to your business? Did you get engaged there as well? Do you have plans or are you alone? Are you feeling stressed or uncommitted? For the unattached or unengaged, the future can seem lonely. That’s why below, we outline the steps you can take to get engaged, plan the perfect spring wedding, then ultimately marry your plan for success!

Step 1: Meet someone.

Are you lonely? Can you meaningfully discuss your profit and loss statement (P&L) with your employee(s)? Office “romances” don’t work – find someone outside of your practice. A trusted business advisor like your Consult Account Manager brings perspective from the industry, shares what similar practices are doing right (and wrong), and minimizes the trial-and-error method of running a business. This was particularly true during the COVID crisis. Many of our members have reported that the sense of belonging and knowing someone cared—about them, their staff, and their business—were some of the most appreciated services of 2020. Talking to yourself in the mirror, brainstorming ideas, and trying to convince yourself everything was going to be “ok” probably did little to actually relieve any of the loneliness or confusion you may have been feeling. Fortunately, you don’t need to be alone.

Step 2: Pick out your ring.

A clear sign that you’re getting engaged soon is the conversation about what the ring will look like – the shape, the style, the size, and, of course, the price tag? Have you picked out your business’ “ring” yet? Think about the following:
  • Will you sell more private hearing aids or participate in more third-party administrator plans?
  • Are you expanding your business or selling it?
  • Do you have enough space?
  • Are you fully staffed?
  • Do you have the right employees in the right positions?
  • Do you want to be a low-cost/low-value or high-cost/high-value provider or emphasize diagnostic care?
  • Do you have a revenue goal for 2021, 2022, 2023, and beyond?
  • If someone came in and offered to buy your practice tomorrow, do you have a price in mind?
Asking yourself these questions will help you define the kind of business you have, the kind you want to run, and what you want its future to look like.

Step 3: Make a plan.

Did you look at your calendar on February 13th and realize you didn’t have plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you operate your business each day without plans for the next day? Despite the many industry changes, too many practice owners fail to adjust accordingly. For example:
  • Have you seen your marketing become less effective? Make plans to adjust your marketing budget and strategy to focus on more effective messaging and mediums.
  • Tired of shifting piles of paper charts off your desk? Make plans to convert to a practice management system (PMS).
Don’t just sit in your office hoping tomorrow will look different—decide to actually do something today! Define a goal then list out the steps required to make it a reality. Resolve that the stress of doing nothing can only be ameliorated by acting. Why sit idle watching other businesses marry their plans for success? Set a date and start planning!

Step 4: Commit.

An engagement is a commitment, so treat it accordingly. Define your business lifecycle. Make plans to attain any goals you set. Work with someone outside the business but commit to the people in your business as well. Are they being developed? Are they reaching their goals? Review your business regularly—you should study your financials monthly, not just at tax time. Spend time understanding the relationship with your business and make it work. Successful marriages don’t just happen—they take a continuous, concerted effort.

Don’t wait for the next engagement season—
get engaged today!

About the Author

Scott Berger joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as our Regional Sales Manager - Inside Sales/Hospital. Previously, he spent nine years leading our Sales Analytics department. Scott holds an MBA in finance from Hofstra University and has several years of experience working in operations, analytics, and supply chain in the medical device industry. He is passionate about working directly with customers in an entrepreneurial setting.

Four Fundamentals for Building a High-Performing Team

Managing an effective team requires several competencies and begins with the core values of the leader. These values set the tone for what’s needed to perform at a high level. Leaders must establish expectations from the beginning with their team. It’s key for you to outline what’s expected of your team and how you plan to hold them accountable.
As you begin to build your team, finding out what motivates them and which levers to pull will be key to driving higher performance. As a leader, you need to provide your team clear direction, a roadmap, and support and ensure they understand their growth potential. As a leader, there are four building blocks to consider in building and managing a high-performing team:

1.Culture

Culture is something that you can’t always see, but you can feel it. It’s often in the intangibles, the little things. Building a culture starts with building a TEAM, itself. It’s important to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be collaborative. Establish opportunities for your team to work together and understand each other’s roles right off the bat. These projects will help galvanize the group. Part of a performance culture is setting up a winning mentality. Confidence breeds success, and the more wins your team can attain, the faster you create a culture of winning. This also allows employees to gain ownership over their success. No matter the field of work, everyone wants to be part of a winning team and have ownership in it. So, establish some easy wins for your team!

2. Accountability

Accountability, like culture, must be instituted from the outset. Accountability is being consistent—consistent in your actions and your words. Lead by example – do what you say you’re going to do, and your team will, too. Setting clear and attainable goals is equally important to maintain and cultivate the buy-in culture you are trying to establish. Furthermore, when you set expectations, it is imperative to assess what you expect and provide timely feedback. This should be done through regular one-on-one meetings as well as throughout the day. Be sure to provide positive feedback on the activities your team is doing well. This will lend more weight when you must focus on areas of improvement – which is often more difficult to deliver, but important in terms of development and growth.

3. Motivation

Finding out what makes each of your team members tick is critical to creating a high-performing environment. As a leader, you will be part cheerleader, part coach, and even sometimes part psychologist. Finding out what motivates each individual is how you will unlock a higher level of performance from your group. Utilize one-on-one meetings to engage and learn more about your colleagues. Motivation can come in many forms, whether it is professional advancement, monetary gain, or the love of competition. As a sales manager, I create excitement and healthy competition amongst the group. You must give your team a reason to come to work, beyond the paycheck, if you want to see their performance increase.

4. Development

Developing your employee’s skillsets so they can perform the best in their current role and challenging them with stretch assignments is a major piece of team building. As a leader or coach, it’s important to look at each day as an improvement opportunity for yourself and your team. Identifying potential leaders within a team is key to an organization sustaining a competitive edge. You cultivate these individuals by delegating tasks, creating open forums for ideas, and communicating your vision of a collaborative structure. Challenge your employees, provide them an opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. Not only does this reinforce your confidence in them, but it also gives them a sense of what a leadership role entails. The open forum provides a space where each of your employees have a voice and can be heard. It also allows them to take ownership in the team’s endeavors and/or demonstrate leadership amongst their peers.

Everyone will have different ways to lead a team, but these four core tenets transcend across industries. Ultimately, communicating a clear vision is paramount to gaining buy-in. You need everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to achieve an exceptional level of performance. 

For help building and developing a high-performing team, trust Consult YHN’s industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions. Talk to your Account Manager or contact Recruiting@ConsultYHN.com today!

About the Author

Robert Strother has been the Inside Sales Director at Consult YHN since 2016 and has over 10 years of sales leadership experience. In that time, he has led high performing sales teams across an array of industries and developed multiple future sales leaders.